Jegsy Scarr

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Everything posted by Jegsy Scarr

  1. That reminds me...You know how people always make jokes about guys falling asleep after sex? It turns up in movies and whatnot as a kind of, "Oh, lol! he fell asleep, and she's so angry with him!" Yeah, for whatever reason, I've always thought that'd be the sweetest thing, just cuddling up and going to sleep afterwards. You know, just give him hugs and kisses and stroke his hair till he nods off. Sounds romantic to me, anyway. I don't know, maybe because I just think it'd be awkward to talk afterwards. A few words, yes, but an actual conversation? "Um...So, we just had sex...?" "Yep, we did." "Okay, I'm glad we're on the same page about that issue." I laughed way more than I should have. xxx
  2. Nope. No divorce, no exceptions. Obviously, there might be, God forbid, something serious like abuse etc. that might require a civil divorce, but I still believe that sacramental marriage doesn't end till death. And certainly not because of difference in sex drive. Heck, isn't that what marriage counselling is supposed to be for? [ACTUAL ANSWER TO THE QUESTION ENDS HERE] Incidentally, the adultery "exception" Catholics argue is just a bad translation of the Greek text. Jesus condemns divorce in all four gospel accounts, but in Matthew's gospel, Jesus qualifies the statement "Whoever divorces his wife, except for porneia, and marries another, commits adultery. Now, the word porneia is often translated as "adultery", but that's not the word for "adultery". It's more accurately rendered as "sexual immorality" or "unchastity". The word for adultery is moicheia, and Jesus uses it in literally the same sentence: "Whoever divorces his wife, except for porneia [sexual immorality], and marries another, moichatai [commits adultery]." What does "porneia" mean specifically in this context? Well, there's a clue from the fact that the exception is mentioned only in Matthew's account but not in any other. Matthew is writing for a Jewish audience, and therefore it's taken to mean that what the word is referring to is illicit (and therefore invalid) marriages. For example, under the law of Moses, certain consanguineous and familial relationships, such as marriage between an aunt and nephew, are forbidden and sexually immoral, as is marriage between a Jew and Gentile. These are marriages which Jews would consider invalid, and therefore dissolvable. Just logically speaking, if there was an exception to divorce and remarriage for adultery, like Steadfast said, it's not the absolute worst thing a spouse could do - why would it be the only exception? Plus, it would make it rather easy to get out of a marriage if you wanted to be free to marry someone else - just have an affair, and the new wife would be yours. (Yeah, I know no one asked, but it's hard to take off my apologist hat...) xxx
  3. There's some more information here: http://www.snopes.com/pregnant/youngestmother.asp The picture of her heavily pregnant is very sad. If it's of any comfort, there's some more information about her in later life, and she seems to be doing well. xxx
  4. Can a Catholic marry a Christian and vice-versa?

    Aww, thanks! Okay, firstly, you're phrasing the question like it's Catholic vs. Christian. Catholics are Christians. (It's like, all Texans are American, but not all Americans are Texan). But I get what you're asking. Can a Catholic marry a non-Catholic Christian (i.e. Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox)? From a Catholic perspective, the answer is yes, they can. When a Catholic marries a non-Catholic (whether they're a non-Catholic Christian or not Christian at all), they need to get permission from their local bishop (a "dispensation"). It's usually granted, as long as the non-Catholic understands and accepts the essential aspects of marriage (e.g. for life), understands that the Catholic is obligated to do their best to raise the children Catholic, and that there isn't any obvious danger that the Catholic will be forced to leave the faith (say, if their partner is very anti-Catholic and doesn't want them to practice their faith). However, although it's possible for a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic Christian, it's not recommended. When Catholics marry, one of the promises they make as part of the vows are that they'll accept children and raise them in the Church. If you marry a non-Catholic, that becomes a lot harder. The non-Catholic spouse might not agree to raise the child Catholic (even if they agreed to before, minds might change once a child is born). They might allow the children to receive the sacraments, go to Mass, etc. but will speak out against Catholicism around them. Even if they're very tolerant, the child will still get mixed signals since their parents disagree on issues of faith, and they can only agree with one of them. There's also the risk that the Catholic spouse will become lukewarm in their faith, or even fall away. And it's possible that it could cause additional strain between the spouses, since (depending on denomination) they might disagree on important issues, and might not be able to share the faith together as fully. From my own experience, I think it's important to have both husband and wife on the same page. My parents are actually both Catholic, but my dad is no longer practising, and hasn't been since he was a teenager. It was always a little sad to go to Mass every week with just my mum, and although I received the sacraments and went to Catholic school, my faith didn't grow much further than that, until I was old enough to learn it for myself. My dad's not anti-Catholic per se, but I've had to deal with him undermining the faith, Church teachings, calling it excessive if I crossed myself before eating dinner, and so on. I've always wanted my husband and I to be on the same page, because I want to share all of that with him and with our children. It'd be bad enough marrying a lapsed Catholic like my dad, let alone a non-Catholic. Anyway, that's my take. I can't speak for non-Catholics, because I know, for example, that some Protestants are okay with marrying Catholics (or at least will allow it), and others aren't. I think some might even restrict marriage to their own specific denomination (e.g. only another Baptist etc.), but this I don't know, so someone else will have to fill me in! xxx
  5. Free the nipple?

    I forgot to say this, so I'll just add... I don't think you can argue for female toplessness based on the idea of "equality" i.e. "Well, men can co topless, therefore women must be able to as well." I'm not saying that you can't hold the idea that female toplessness is okay, but I just don't think that particular argument is going to work. The reason there are different legal standards for men and women is because men and women are physically different. Men's chests just aren't considered sexual in the same way that women's are (they're still somewhat sexualised, but I think that just women's cleavage alone would be at the same level as a completely naked male chest). So I don't think the argument for equality works - it's not unjust to treat two different things in different ways. Granted, as I mentioned before, I think the legal standards are a lot lower than what I'd considered modest. I don't much like men going topless in public either. Again, some situations will have more relaxed rules e.g. swimming, where modesty is relaxed for men and women (but I'd still draw the line at speedos and bikinis). But again, this is just what I'd consider to be modest and immodest, not necessarily what the law should be. xxx
  6. Free the nipple?

    I shall begin by quoting C.S. Lewis, because he's awesome. He makes some great points in his book Mere Christianity about modesty (It's a long quote, so I'll break it up and highlight the key points): Here's what I think. We need to have some laws about what's acceptable dress in public, because it's just a fact that some parts of the body are sexualised. For example, almost everyone will agree that walking around completely naked isn't acceptable in public, and that you at least have to wear underwear, because no one really argues that the sexual organs should be on show. We make some exceptions based on common sense (e.g. babies being changed, young children at the beach), but that's the general rule. Now, as C.S. Lewis points out, what parts of the body are deemed acceptable for public display depends on time and culture. In most of the Western world now, breasts are seen as sexual. In other places, it's legs and ankles. Breasts haven't always been considered overly sexual even in the West. For example, back in Shakespeare's time, a woman could wear a very low-cut dress and it was still considered modest. Apparently, some of these dresses were so low that they actually sold a special rouge make-up specifically to colour the areolae. However, just because modesty is (at least partly) culturally relative, that doesn't mean that we can therefore pretend that modesty doesn't matter. Even though what what body parts are considered sexual is relative to culture, those parts are still considered sexual. Therefore, there has to be a balance between personal freedom and consideration for others. If a cultural code of modesty is particularly strict (e.g. women covering their entire bodies including their faces) and just isn't practical, then it should be challenged. The balance in the West seems to be fairly good. The law would require a bare minimum (no pun intended) of underwear to be worn, and for women to cover their breasts (or at least most of them, including the nipples). Some may set higher standards (e.g. religious groups), but this goes beyond legal requirement and would be a matter of personal choice. As I mentioned, even the minimum standards should be relaxed as necessary for practical reasons. Breastfeeding is the obvious example - women have to uncover their breasts in order to breastfeed, and breastfeeding can't be avoided in public if the baby or child needs it. It would seem obvious that it's perfectly acceptable to breastfeed in public, and that although women can certainly try to be modest about it, common sense applies. For example, if a baby is having trouble latching onto the breast, then the mother might have to uncover her whole breast so that she can get a good view to sort things out. If for a little while, her nipple is exposed, it's no big deal - people should understand that breastfeeding is an exception to what would usually be considered unacceptable. But, I think we do have a problem in society. The problem is that breasts aren't just seen as sexual - they're hyper-sexualised, in the media, in advertising, and even in our language. It's so extreme that women who breastfeed in public face stigma, because people can't separate the sexual from the function aspect of breasts. For example, mothers who continue to breastfeed a child into their toddler years will often be criticised, even when this is done in private, and even though the World Health Organisation recommends that mothers continue to supplement their child's diet with breast-milk until the age of two. Now, clearly something has to change, and we know from history that attitudes do change. But, they're not going to change overnight. And I'm not convinced that simply having public toplessness (or indeed, a change in the law to allow it) is what's going to help. I think breasts would still be sexualised - we'd just see more of them. Rather, I think the change has to be, as I mentioned before, in the media and in advertising. We need to stop the hyper-sexualisation of breasts, or I don't think we'll see acceptance of breastfeeding. Even if women are breastfeeding in public more often, I think it's going to be like trying to put out a forest fire with teacups of water - you're hardly going to make a dent in it if breasts are still being sexualised in the mass media. xxx
  7. Man caves

    Well, my definition of playing "fairly well" is "winning 50% of games when playing against my dad", so... xxx
  8. Man caves

    Ooh, an air-hockey table! I wasn't paying enough attention the first time I looked. Air-hockey is awesome! I love air-hockey. It's the only sport I can play fairly well (it counts as a sport, right?). Maybe my library could have an air-hockey table in it. Perhaps I could also have a snack bar, with a slushy machine, and ice cream, and hot dogs, and popcorn. And perhaps a little bowling alley... Yeah, maybe they don't go in libraries. Maybe I need an air-hockey and hot dog room... xxx
  9. 30 minutes

    Heck, even I know half an hour isn't realistic. Maybe the teacher meant including foreplay, but that's kind of silly, seeing as it's not actually part of sex, per se. The article Steadfast mentioned seems to have it about right. Interestingly, it's suggesting pelvic floor exercises if guys want sex to last longer. I know women are supposed to do the same exercises to strengthen muscles for giving birth, treating incontinence, etc. as well as possibly (although the evidence isn't conclusive) improving sex. Thirty minutes, though...Seems to me that it's just setting really unrealistic standards. If there were guys in your class, then I can't imagine how some of them must have felt, or what it made some of the girls think about their own boyfriends and so on. I don't know, it reminds me of when I hear of Christian abstinence lessons that will say things like, "Oh, if you wait till marriage, you're going to have the best sex ever on your honeymoon." Uh, no? Emotionally speaking, yes, maybe, but it's not going to be "best" in any other way if none of you have any experience. Just be honest: "No, it's going to take you some time to get to know each other and work out how everything works, so just be prepared, and be happy that this will all be with someone you love." Seems a better way to go. xxx
  10. Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

    But those are clear references to Psalms 69:9 - John and Paul actually say "as it is written" and quote directly from the Psalm. But verse 8 isn't quoted from. You said that verse 8 "I have become a stranger to my brethren, an alien to my mother’s sons." is fulfilled by John 7:5 "For even His brothers were not believing in Him." If it's a reference to Psalm 69:8, then why doesn't John quote the verse, like he does in John 2:15-17. The words aren't even the same. Psalm 69:8 says the speaker has become "a stranger" and "an alien". That's not the same as someone not believing in you. It's not obvious that it's a reference to verse 8, which I think means John would have had even more reason to quote from the Psalms - otherwise, the reader isn't going to get the parallel. Can I be honest? I don't think either of us can prove anything here. If you assume that "brother" means "Mary's son", then all of your arguments work. But if you assume that "brother" means either "Joseph's son" or "a more distant male relative", then all of your arguments work to prove my case. I don't think either of us can win this one. Vince, you're arguing, "Because she answered in the present tense, that means she knew conception would be soon after and not later." That's a circular argument. I'm pointing out that the angel said nothing that implies conception would be soon, just that it was going to happen, so if you were planning to have sex, it's odd that you'd ask "How can this be" - after all, angels tell a lot of people in the Bible that they're going to have a baby, and in all other cases, it's as a result of just having sex. There's no precedence for a virginal conception, so asking how it will happen suggests sex wasn't planned. But you're arguing, "Well, she must have known conception was to take place soon, because she answered 'I know not man', and therefore she must have known conception was to take place before she was due to have sex." You're asserting the very thing you're trying to prove. And as I said, if Mary did take a vow of consecrated virginity, then it's not a case of, "Well, getting married means she'd be more likely to break that vow." Getting married would have been required by the temple authorities, so that the husbands would act as a protector. As for that being "tempting yourself", only if you're actually attracted to each other. If Joseph was much older, and saw Mary as more of a daughter or a sister to him than a wife, then it's probably not going to be a problem. I disagree. Extended family don't have the same responsibilities that sons do. Responsibility, yes, but not as strong as if this were your own mother who'd given birth to you. It wouldn't be as problematic to have a friend look after your mother if there were no other sons who would do so. I'd say this just comes down to a difference in opinion between you and me. For example, the Catholic Church has both celibate and married priests. You'd probably argue, "Married priests are better, because it's beautiful to dedicate your life to God and to your family, and for children to have the example of a father serving God." I'd argue, "Unmarried priests are better, because it's beautiful to see a man who's given his entire life to God, forsaking personal pleasure and fulfilment, so that he can serve God and his congregation with all his body and soul and mind and heart." Neither or us are right: it's just a matter of opinion. But the Church can't just define a Bible verse to mean something completely opposite from what it's always been taken to mean - that would ignore Sacred Tradition. The few verses that have been defined, for example, Matthew 16:18, defined as referring to Peter's authority - that verse has always been considered to show that. They couldn't just, for example, say, "Oh, that means 'Peter, you're actually insignificant and don't matter to God's plans at all'", because that would violate what Sacred Tradition has held for centuries. Yeah, I have to say I agree with Vince on this one. Again, it's not necessary for God to have saved Mary from falling into Original Sin, only fitting. For example, Catholics will see the Ark of the Covenant as an Old Testament type for Mary - the Ark was made of purest materials and carried the law inscribed in stone, the urn filled with manna, and the rod of Aaron the high priest; Mary was made without the stain of original sin and carried the law made flesh, the living Bread, and the eternal high priest. But, as Vince says, she didn't have to be without sin for Jesus to inherit a pure human nature, otherwise Mary's mother would also have to be without sin, and her mother, and so on. xxx
  11. Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

    Ooh, I should have asked you about the Greek! Thanks! Well, the expression used would be husband and wife becoming "one" or "one flesh", but there's obviously only so far you can take that. Yes, they physically join together, and there's the creation of one complete reproductive system, and it's a deep spiritual connection, but it's obviously not a literal thing. You still have separate souls, and you obviously don't turn into some androgynous creature like Hermaphroditus and Salmacis (she is one messed up nymph). I mean, like I said, the idea of Mary being a consecrated virgin isn't something that's definitively taught by the Church, just that it's a possibility. There are still those who believe in Mary's perpetual virginity, but believe that Mary and Joseph were originally planning a regular marriage, and just changed their minds when they discovered they'd been chosen to be the mother and foster-father of God's Son. I still think the phrase "How can this be since I know not man" is a suggestion towards consecrated virginity, but either position works. So I guess the phrase "came together" could work either way. xxx
  12. Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

    To be clear, I'm not saying that the Protoevangelium of James is a fully reliable source. It's obviously not - the author has clearly expanded on what we know from the Gospel, probably to emphasise elements they considered important, or for symbolic reasons. I was simply pointing out that it's interesting that we have this idea of Mary being a consecrated virgin, and although it was written later, it's only a few generations later. You'd have Christians at the time who'd listened to their parents telling them what they'd learned first-hand about Mary and Joseph. I'm certainly not saying that the consecrated virgin theory is true, just that if it were true, it would explain a lot. Psalm 69 also contains many verses that don't fit the messianic prophecy. For example, verse 11 has the speaker wearing sackcloth, and we have no references in the Gospels to Jesus wearing sackcloth. There are lots of verses where the speaker is asking God to save them from deep waters, and that they are sinking beneath the waves, something we know Jesus did the exact opposite of. Most importantly, verse 5 has the speaker talking about the wrongs he has done God, and that certainly can't be Jesus, because we know He never sinned. Not every verse fits the messianic prophecy. We're not supposed to take the speaker of the psalm as being Jesus - some are the words of the psalmist, and some will be poetic images and language which is supposed to apply to anyone who's in a similar situation of calling for God's aid and protection. I think it's unlikely that the term "apostles" is being used as a general term. Paul is talking about going "up to Jerusalem" right after his conversion, at an early date, and he's going to get approval lest he "should be running or had run in vain". I think it's far more likely he's going to see the Apostles as in "the twelve". We also know that James the son of Zebedee was martyred early on, so Paul wouldn't necessarily need to clarify which James it was he met with. Your argument "Given the context of starting with his actual immediate family, it makes no sense for there to be a switch in context to extended relatives or friends when His brothers and sisters are listed right after." doesn't make sense to me. If Jesus doesn't have any literal brothers and sisters, then right after you've mentioned His parents, the next closest relatives would indeed be uncles, aunts, cousins etc. (and, of course, step-siblings, if Joseph was previously married). If you're trying to say, "Hey, this guy is claiming to be God, but we know all his family members," then it seems reasonable to point out, "Look, he has a huge family network of uncles and cousins who are all biologically related to him." Like you say, that doesn't prove Mary had other children. It just says, Elizabeth had a son. "First-born", as I said, is a word which holds a lot of weight to it, like the fact that first-borns are the ones who are consecrated to God. Your argument "When 'until' is preceded by a negative it always implies that a negated action took place" seems to be based more on the semantics of the English language, not Greek. (I'm not an Ancient Greek scholar, of course, so I can't argue one way or the other on how Greek works, but you'd really need an Ancient Greek expert to clear this one up). "Came together" means to come together in a sexual sense? I would think it would be referring to how they had yet to live together, since as you know, that's how the Jewish marriage ceremony worked at the time - you were legally married, but it wasn't until later that you shared a house. Some translations will say Mary and Joseph were "betrothed", but legally, they were already married. Is the phrase "to come together" used anywhere else as a metaphor for sex? Usually, the Bible uses "to know" or "to lie with". But the angel doesn't say, "Mary, you are going to become pregnant right this second," or "You're already pregnant." The angel says, "You will have a son." That's future tense, and the angel doesn't give any date of when this will happen, just that it is going to at some point. So even if Mary was planning to have sex later in her marriage, it wouldn't make sense to ask how she could become pregnant - it'd be obvious. I think "I know not man" isn't just saying, "At this point in time, I know not man" but rather, as a nun might say, "I know not man" - it's a statement about Mary herself, not just the point in time she's at in her life. Also, whilst "Be fruitful and multiply" is generally true for ordinary married couples, I don't think it works to try to apply that to an extraordinary circumstance, like a family in which you have a child who is also God. We're not dealing with ordinary circumstances here. Personally, I don't see how you could be any more fruitful that to have given birth to Jesus, who in turn gives life to everyone in the world. And it's wrong for a couple to deprive each other sexually. It's certainly not wrong if the couple freely choose not to have sex. I think that's a very weak argument. Would I entrust my mother to my own brother over my best friend? Of course I would - my brother would have a natural obligation to look after her, because she'd be his mother, who gave birth to him and raised him. My best friend might be more loyal, but it's only right to say to my brother, "Look, you've disappointed me, but she is your mother and therefore it is only right that you spend the rest of your life making sure she's looked after." In a Jewish culture, I'm pretty sure there would be legal responsibilities, too. Even more so if Jesus could see into His brother's heart - His brother presumably wants to take care of Mary, and would be devastated if Jesus decided without even consulting him that a friend was better suited to look after her than her own flesh and blood. I highly doubt Jesus would do such a thing unless His brother were evil and was going to mistreat Mary, not just because he got scared and ran away. And this decision would last even after he'd returned to Jesus and Jesus had forgiven Him - he'd still have to carry the shame (and, frankly, devastation) that his mother wasn't going to be living with him, but with his friend. The others who ran away are all forgiven and return to their leadership positions in the Church, but he still doesn't get his mother back? Again, I highly doubt that's something Jesus would do. Far more likely that there were no other brothers to look after Mary. You're saying "numerous", Vince, but I can't find that. Even in the very early days, there was support for the perpetual virginity of Mary, and as far as I can tell, it only seems to have grown, to the point where it seems to be nearly unanimous by about the 7th century all the way up to the 16th. The Protestant reformers believed it.Some Lutherans and Anglicans still believe it, as do the Eastern Orthodox. It seems like the major rejection of it by Protestants seems to be a combination of rejecting anything not explicitly spelled out in the Bible, and a dislike of anything that seemed to legitimise priestly celibacy or that venerated Mary. Like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I'm not basing the perpetual virginity on the fact that anything else is "not fitting". I'm just pointing out that it is fitting. Oh, come now, Vincey, you know I didn't say "Sex within marriage is a sin" and you know that I'm the last person in the world who would do so. Of course it's beautiful and holy. But compared to being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, impregnated with the very Son of God, and your body becoming a living tabernacle for God's Son? Yes, sex with a human being is a step down from that. Again, it's not an argument in and of itself, but all I'm doing is pointing out that it's fitting. One more thing: if I weren't Catholic, and were trying to find out whether or not Mary was a virgin her whole life, I don't see how I could possibly do it based on the Bible alone. I do think the evidence for my side is stronger, but a Protestant could quite reasonably claim, "Well, I interpret these passages of the Bible to say something different." Most of the verses can be argued either way, as you've shown. Does that passages in Psalms 69 apply to Jesus or not - well, you can argue either way. Are those biological brothers, or not - again, it could go either way. Even your argument about Jesus leaving Mary to John because His brothers ran away - well, I don't think it's a good argument, but it's not impossible. It could be true. This is exactly why I think Protestantism and Sola Scriptura don't work. It's not enough to just say, "Just read the Bible, and you'll get everything you need to know from there." You can argue both for and against the Trinity, for goodness sake, if all you're reading is the Bible. Some things aren't obvious. You need another authority to interpret the Bible and clarify moral teachings. xxx
  13. Man caves

    Well, I'll definitely be having an office for writing in. Haven't decided on the exact design yet, but it'd be good to have a room with lots of light in it. Maybe something like this: I can put a big pinboard up where that painting is, for ideas and notes and whatnot. And no phone. And a comfier chair. And no whatever that big T shaped thing is. But you get the idea. But I also really want a library, although that'd be open to everyone in the family and my friends (and probably neighbours who wanted to borrow a book. Probably this big, if possible: But this one is a little dark, so I'd want something that's brighter. Probably have a wall of windows, and then lots of bookcases in rows. That'd be nice. xxx
  14. Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

    Oh, really, Vincey? Well, let's just see about that... You won't find an explicit teaching in the Bible which states "Mary was a virgin her whole life", just like you won't find an explicit teaching saying "God is one being in three persons" or "The Bible is the only source of authority for Christians." But the teaching has been in Sacred Tradition since the beginning. First, to address the common arguments against Mary's perpetual virginity. The one that Vince and Steadfast already mentioned is that the Bible refers to Jesus's "brothers and sisters" a few times, like in Matthew 13:55-56 "Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brethren James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all of his sisters with us?" There are a couple of problems with this, though. For one thing, although it refers to "Jesus's brethren" a few times in the Bible, never do we see Mary referred to as being their mother, even though it's common for the Gospels to distinguish between women in this way. The other issue is, we can see from other passages in the New Testament that at least some of these "brethren" definitely aren't biological siblings of Jesus. That "brother" James is mentioned again in Paul's letter to the Galatians (Galatians 1:18-19) "Then after three years I [Paul] went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother." Okay, so James is one of the apostles. There are two apostles named James: James the son of Zebedee, and James the son of Alphaeus. So whoever Jesus's "brother" James is, he's not Mary and Joseph's son. If we know that at least one of those who are called Jesus's "brothers" isn't Mary's child, then it's not unreasonable to assume that the others mentioned aren't necessarily her children either. So who are the "brothers and sisters" of Jesus, if not biological siblings? There are a few different options, and the Church doesn't have a definitive teaching on any of them - they're all perfectly valid. The first is that the term "brethren" is used as general term for a more distant relative, like a cousin. We see this, for example, in the Old Testament, where Abraham and Lot are referred to as "brothers" even though they're actually uncle and nephew. The second is that at least some of the people referred to are step-siblings of Jesus: sons and daughters of Joseph, but not Mary. I'll come back to this in a moment. And there's also the chance that they could be adopted children (not completely unheard of at the time), but that's probably a lot less likely to be the case. The second objection that gets brought up is the passage in Matthew 1:24-25 "And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife. And he knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus." Some argue that "firstborn" implies a second-born, but this is a misunderstanding of what "firstborn" means in Judaism - the child which opens the womb, and therefore is consecrated to God, as in Exodus 13:1-2. But the main argument people raise is the use of the word "until" and argue that this means they must have had sex after Jesus's birth. But this isn't always how the word "until" is used. We use it in expressions like, "Until we meet again, may God bless you" and in the Bible, "Christ must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet." That doesn't mean that after you've met again, you want God to stop blessing someone, or that Jesus won't reign after His enemies are under His feet. Rather, it's emphasising what happens before the event is fulfilled. So why the emphasis on Mary being a virgin up until Jesus was born? Likely, just to emphasise the fact that Jesus has no human father, and that Joseph had nothing to do with Jesus's conception or development in pregnancy. I think that's particularly important considering that it's only in the last two-hundred years that we've become aware of exactly how conception and pregnancy works, and that after conception, having sex isn't going to have any impact on the child. The early Christians believed in Mary's perpetual virginity, as did Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli. Even John Calvin, whilst he wasn't certain about it, agreed that the Bible references to "brethren", "firstborn" and the "until" don't tell us anything on the subject. Now for the arguments for Mary's perpetual virginity. In Luke 1:34, when the Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is to be the mother of Jesus, Mary asks, "How shall this be, since I know not man?" Now, we know that Mary is already "espoused" to Joseph, which meant that he already had the right to consummate the marriage with her. There's nothing in what the angel says that suggests that Jesus's conception is going to be anything other than the natural way - all he says is "You will conceive your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus". There'd be no reason for Mary to ask how it would happen - for all she knows Jesus will be conceived in the ordinary way - unless, of course, she wasn't planning on ever consummating her marriage with Joseph. Another argument is that when Jesus is dying on the cross, He entrusts Mary to the apostle John, asking him to take her into his house and look after her as his mother. If Mary did have other biological sons, then it would be their duty to take care of her, not John's. From a theological perspective, Mary is also called the Bride of the Holy Spirit. The language used in Luke 1, that the Holy Spirit will "overshadow" her so that she will conceive Jesus, is nuptial language, like that in Ruth 3:8, where Ruth tells Boaz "spread your skirt over me" (don't laugh, men wore skirts). Joseph is Mary's legal husband, and he's the legal father of Jesus, but she's conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit. It probably wouldn't have been a sin per se for him to have consummated the marriage to Mary, but it'd be very unfitting - she's been chosen to bear God's son, and her body has become God's physical temple. It's fitting for her to remain a virgin, for God alone. Now, there's also an extra-biblical source called the Protoevangelium of James which seems to clear a lot of things up. It's not inspired scripture, and therefore not part of the Bible, but it was written around A.D. 120, so it may have preserved at least some truths about Mary that have been passed down. According to the text, Mary's parents were struggling to conceive a child, so vowed to God that if He gave them a child, they would dedicate them to Him. When Mary was born, that's exactly what they did. Mary became a consecrated virgin. Now, when consecrated virgins came of age, it was customary for them to marry a man who would act as their protector and guardian, a legal husband but one who wouldn't consummate the marriage. According to the text, Joseph was selected as Mary's husband because he was already an older man and a widower with children, and therefore he wasn't interested in marrying again to have more children. As I said, this isn't considered to be an inspired scriptural text, and was written a long time after Mary was born. But, it would explain a lot of things if it were true. It could explain who some of those brothers and sisters were - step-siblings of Jesus from Joseph's previous marriage. It would explain as well why Joseph isn't mentioned in the Gospels during Jesus's ministry - it's assumed that he died at some point between Jesus's life in between age 12-30, and if he was an older man, this would make sense. And it would also make sense that Mary and Joseph married never intending to have sex in the first place - it would explain Mary's remarks, "How can this be, since I know not man?" Personally, I like the explanation given in the Proteoevangelium of James. It's actually quite an interesting book. I also like the description of Jesus's birth, which is described as having took place not in the ordinary manner, but that He appeared through a cloud of light (the description has been compared to the way light shines through glass, without breaking the glass's shape or integrity). I think that's a really nice idea. (The text gets weird after that, with a woman saying, "Oh, a virgin's given birth, I'm not believing that. I'm going to go look and see what she looks like," and she ...uh...checks her out, and gets her hand burned off by a mysterious fire, and she starts screaming, "Lord, Lord, forgive me," and an angel appears and says, "Hey, just hold your arm out to the baby there, and He'll fix you up," so she does, and she gets her hand back... Yeah, it's at this point that I think the writer has just decided to make stuff up he thought would be a cool symbol, or something. Even so, I liked the light image.) xxx
  15. Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

    It's actually a little bit of both. The Catholic Church would say that yes, your marriage is valid from the moment you make the vows, since when you say the words ("I take you as my husband/wife"), those words affect a change on the man and woman, just as the words of baptism actually cause something to happen to the person being baptised. So from the moment you say those words, you are married (otherwise you wouldn't really get your first dance as a married couple at the reception, and so on). But, remember I said that marital sex is like the wedding vows made flesh. While a marriage is valid from the moment you make those vows, it's not considered absolutely binding until you've consummated (completed) it with the sexual act. That means that if a marriage hasn't been consummated, you'd have the ability to have the marriage dissolved so you'd be free to marry someone else. Once you've had marital sex, not even the Pope can dissolve a sacramental marriage. So, for example, people sometimes ask about Mary and Joseph's marriage, since Catholics believe it was never consummated. The answer is yes, it was a valid marriage, but could have been dissolved. With an asexual couple, like you mentioned, they it doesn't matter how long they wait to have sex - they're still married, even if they ended up never having sex after all. Vince is on to something, though. Married couple do have the right to each other's bodies in the sexual act. Strictly speaking, you shouldn't be refusing your spouse sex unless you have a good reason to do so (I always get mad when I hear of spouses who are like, "Oh, no sex for you till you do those chores I asked you"). So if you were asexual and wanted to get married to someone who wasn't, that'd be something you'd have to bear in mind - would you be okay with having sex frequently if your spouse wanted it, even though you didn't really have a desire to do so? xxx
  16. Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

    In the case you describe, the sterilisation isn't actually necessary. Imagine a scenario where a man is told, "You have a life-threatening stomach condition. You're perfectly fine and healthy at the moment, but if you were to drink alcohol, this is likely to cause a serious infection. To prevent that happening, you'll have to either have that part of your stomach removed, or stop drinking." He couldn't have part of a healthy organ removed - the solution would be not to drink alcohol. The same kind of logic applies - sterilisation isn't considered a treatment in this case, because it is still the couple's choice to have sex. A few other things to bear in mind - with some medical conditions, there may be hope that in the future there'll be a cure so that pregnancy would be possible. Sometimes couples will consult with doctors and decide to go ahead with another baby, if they decide either that they'll take the risk, or there's a way to manage the health conditions that might arise. Some will use NFP to abstain during fertile times - this is certainly a serious reason to use NFP. But others may decide not to take the risk, and will abstain from sex completely until after the woman is no longer fertile. As I mentioned, in the days before reliable contraception and any reliable means of discerning fertility, these are exactly the things couples had to decide. Now, by no means is any of this easy. Unfortunately, we're often asked in life to do things which are difficult. It's difficult to wait till marriage to have sex. It's difficult to go through your whole life without having sex, because you were unable to find a marriage partner. Even people who don't follow Church teaching still face things scenarios like this. Couples often have to abstain from sex for short periods during marriage, for medical treatments or during difficult pregnancies where sex could be dangerous. You might have times where sex is impossible because of physical or psychological issues. A spouse might develop mental health issues like dementia that leave them unable to understand or consent to sex any more. Imagine a young couple recently married, husband goes off to war, steps on a landmine and loses everything below his waist - you're left with a completely sexless marriage. I think most in our culture agree, it's an extremely hard blow, but that's part of the vow: "For better, for worse, in sickness and in health." (I do think we can agree on this that there are occasions in marriage when abstaining from sex is necessary. We just disagree on what exactly those occasions are.) Really, it's do do with the fact that the couple are taking an active role in causing the infertility. They're not simply using the natural times of infertility that God's given them. Pretty morbid comparison, but it's a little like the difference between saying, "When Grandma dies next week, we'll move into her house," and "Well, Grandma is going to die soon anyway, so if we just kill her now, we can move in today." Uh...yeah, that's really morbid. Just ignore that. Think of something less morbid. Yeah, it's not enough to just "know" that a particular action is considered to be a sin by some people. For example, some religions teach that eating meat is wrong. Now, just because I know that a certain religion teaches it's a sin to eat meat, that doesn't mean I'm committing a sin. I have no reason to believe the authority of those religions, or indeed, why eating meat would be wrong. Even if I turned up at the Pearly Gates to be greeted with a "Surprise! Meat is murder!" God isn't going to hold me responsible for following my conscience as best as I could, and doing everything I could to correctly form that conscience to discern moral truths. For Catholics specifically, we believe that the Church speaks for God in matters of faith and morality. If you believe that, then that means you do have an obligation to follow Church teaching even if you yourself don't see why something is a sin. It's just a logical conclusion. You get Catholics who will say things like, "Oh, I know the Church teaches that abortion is wrong, but I believe the Church is wrong on this issue." Well, there are only two possible solutions there. Either you recognise the fact that the Church speaks for God on moral matters like abortion, and you're knowingly rejecting that truth, which is a sin - you're choosing to ignore something you know to be true. Or, you don't believe that the Church speaks the truth on issues of faith or morality...in which case, why would you be Catholic? It'd be like a disciple: "Oh, I think Jesus is wrong about adultery." Either you think Jesus teaches falsehood, in which case it'd be silly for you to be following Him, or you're just choosing to ignore a teaching of His that you don't like. Now, I'm assuming that you don't have any good reasons to think that the Catholic Church is an authoritative source on what's a sin and what isn't. Therefore, you're not going to believe something's a sin just because the Church says so. Frankly, you should't believe the Church speaks for God if you don't have good evidence for it. Again, if someone came up to you and said, "Jesus is God, and therefore you need to become a Christian," to just agree without evidence would be blind faith. Jesus Himself proved He was God by performing miracles for the disciples, because God doesn't expect us to just believe blindly without a shred of evidence. That's why we're rational creatures - faith and reason have to go together. As I mentioned, human beings do have an inherent understanding of sin, and some sins are really obvious to us. Everybody, regardless of religion or lack of religion, knows that it's wrong to murder, steal and commit adultery. We sometimes struggle with specific scenarios (e.g. "Is it wrong to kill in self defence?"), but we do all understand the general principles. xxx
  17. Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

    We can't use immoral means even to achieve good ends. Sterilisation is out straight away, since it's essentially the mutilation of healthy organs. You can't remove or disable parts of your body unless there's something wrong with them (e.g. removing cancerous organs) or if it's as a side effect of treating a larger issue (e.g. weakening an immune system to prevent a kidney transplant being rejected). Hormonal birth control is basically a kind of temporary sterilisation (you can take the Pill for health reasons, however, since you're not deliberately trying to sterilise yourself - that'd be considered a side-effect). Barrier methods like condoms don't tamper with the body, but the intention to sterilise is still there. Babies don't just pop into existence - they're as a result of choosing to have sex. Throughout human history, that's meant that if you wanted to avoid pregnancy, you've either had to avoid sex completely, or have sex when you think you're unlikely to get pregnant. Christians, by the way, have always been against contraception, right up until the 1930s when the first Christian denominations started to cave. Even Martin Luther was an outspoken opponent of contraception - for example, when denouncing the biblical Onan and his act of coitus interuptus, he stated: "Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime". Essentially, you don't get to have your cake and eat it, too. When we choose to have sex, we've got to be willing to accept the responsibilities that come with it. Even using NFP, the couple have to acknowledge that if a child comes along anyway, it's still their responsibility to look after them. When you get married in the Catholic Church, part of the vows include the question, "Will you accept children lovingly from God", which if the answer is "no" means the priest can't go any further with the wedding. Now, the line can get a little fuzzy. Certainly, you can't use contraceptives. But I'm not sure whether it's enough to say, "Well, we won't use contraceptives, but we're going to use NFP, but if we get pregnant, we'll accept that baby even though we didn't really want one." As I said, it's not okay to use NFP like that, but whether it's enough to actually render your marriage invalid? Honestly, I'm not sure. That gets into some complicated Canon Law issues. Of course, if you told the priest in your pre-marriage classes, "Yeah, we don't really like children, so if we get pregnant, we'll be disappointed but we'll just have to deal with it," he's unlikely to suggest that you get married in the first place. xxx
  18. Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

    That's right. Catholics believe that it's no longer bread and wine, but Jesus Christ, present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Therefore, you really have to be Catholic to receive it, since it's required that you understand what you're receiving. Exceptions are made for Eastern Orthodox Christians, because they share the same beliefs about the Eucharist (and also have a valid Eucharist in their own churches, since they have a valid priesthood), and exceptions can be made, for example, if you're a Protestant in danger of death who expressed a belief in the Real Presence. A lot of Catholic churches, as you said, will offer blessings for non-Catholics, Catholics who haven't yet received their first communion (they don't tend to give the Eucharist to children under 7, except in special circumstances), and for Catholics who aren't receiving the Eucharist (e.g. if they've not fasted for at least an hour beforehand, which is required). Strictly speaking, yes, it would be an offence, and actually a serious sin. But of course, if you don't know it's a sin, then God doesn't hold you responsible. Priests, by the way, don't usually realise if a non-Catholic has received the Eucharist. Although they might give an announcement before communion (e.g. "Just a reminder to the congregation that only Catholics in a state of grace are permitted to receive the Eucharist") or put a notice in the bulletin about it, there's no one who checks to see if you're Catholic before you receive. It just wouldn't be practical in a busy church, and even if they don't recognise your face, you might be a visiting Catholic from a different parish, or one who's returning to church after being away. It's really the responsibility of whoever's going up for communion to follow the rules. Now, if you did something completely out of the ordinary, like stare at the Eucharist when it was placed in your hand as if you didn't know what to do, they might then ask you if you were Catholic or not, and react accordingly. What happens if you receive the Eucharist if you know you shouldn't be receiving? Well, it depends on whether you know it's a mortal (serious) sin or not. If you don't know something's a mortal sin, then you're not considered fully responsible for your actions, although you'd be committing a venial (less serious) sin if you still understood it to be wrong. Now, if you just thought it was a minor sin, but still received, that's not enough to send you to Hell, but it still has an effect on your soul. Only a perfectly pure and good soul can enter Heaven, so if you've committed venial sins during your life, they'd have to be cleaned up from your soul before you could get to Heaven. But, if you knew it was a serious sin that would make you go to Hell. and did it anyway? Sorry, that's a one-way ticket there! You still, of course, have a chance to repent and have your sin forgiven before you die, just as you do with any mortal sin. But yeah, knowingly consuming the Eucharist when you shouldn't be is up there with any other mortal sin. You can argue, of course, that murder is up there with sins against the Eucharist, and that doesn't make sense, since they don't seem equally serious. But they're both serious enough. It's kind of like arguing, "Well, how come you can be jailed for fraud - that's not as serious as murder." Yeah, but they're both unacceptable enough that you can do jail time for them. The line has to be drawn somewhere. Generally speaking, a mortal sin will be one which breaks one of the ten commandments, or a variation upon them - something which seriously harms yourself, another person, or deliberately disrespects God. As I said, you also have to understand the seriousness of the sin, and commit it with full consent, for it to be serious enough to send you to Hell. (Sometimes, you can be genuinely ignorant that something is a mortal sin, but some things are obvious to us, like stealing, adultery and murder, which we instinctively know to be wrong without having to be told.) xxx
  19. Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

    I've talked a lot about this in previous posts, but I'm going to take another go at it, because I don't particularly like my explanations so far (they were a good few years back, and it's taken me that long to get a good understanding of the subject). It's important to remember that the sexual act is good in and of itself. It's not good just because it makes babies. Just the fact that it brings husband and wife together to strengthen their relationship is a good thing in and of itself. Therefore, it's not a problem when you have a husband and wife who are, for example, too old to have children having sex. It's still a good thing for them to do. I've seen some theologians argue that because the sexual act is spiritually as well as physically beneficial, it's at the level of a sacramental - imparting supernatural grace to the couple's marriage. If nothing else, it's a physical renewal of the couple's wedding vows. That being said, God hasn't created sex just so couples can bond with each other, etc. Sex still comes with responsibility, namely, our fertility. Of all the gifts God's given us - seeing, hearing, walking - that might be one of the greatest. Procreation is so called because at the moment of conception, God creates an immortal human soul that will live forever, and infuses it into the new human body. We provide the raw physical materials for that body, but the soul is entirely new, created ex nihilo. Fertility is an incredible gift to be entrusted to human beings. A married couple can literally say, "God, we'd like You to create another immortal human being who will live forever," and at the moment of conception, He'll do it. Of course, it's not a chore for God to create humans. He loves human beings, and wants a lot of them. The very first commandment in the bible is "Be fruitful and multiply." The sexual act is how we do it. That doesn't of course mean that everyone is supposed to have children. If you choose to dedicate your life to God through holy orders or religious life, then that's a good thing - you're giving yourself entirely to God instead of splitting your time between God and a family. You might choose to remain single your whole life, and dedicate your life to serving God and the community around you. Both are fine and good. But in doing so, you'd be abstaining from sex. Sex belongs in marriage, where husband and wife have decided to serve God and their family. It's pretty much a package deal - if you don't want children, then don't have sex, but if you'd like to have sex, you've got to be prepared to have children. Having children isn't the entire purpose of marriage, but it's an essential element that you're at least open to having children - you might discover that children aren't possible for you, which is fine, but if you entered into marriage deciding, "Well, we're going to have sex, but there's no way we want children", that would render your marriage invalid. In other words, God's given you a great gift in your fertility. If you decide to have sex, fertility goes along with that, and you have to respect that. You can't sterilise yourself (permanently or temporarily) to get rid of your fertility, and you can't seek sexual pleasure outside of the sexual act. However, God hasn't designed us to be always fertile. Female fertility comes in cycles. You start out infertile at the beginning of life, then go through cycles of fertility and infertility, and then finally you're infertile again. Other things will affect it, too, like stress or serious illness, where you might see fertility disappearing for a while, or when women are producing breast milk, which often brings infertility. It's fine to have sex when you're not fertile - that's just part of how human sexuality works. But, as I said, fertility is a gift, and married couples have a responsibility to use it well. You can't say, "We'll sterilise sex so we can get rid of fertility, enjoying the pleasure without having children." You can't say, "We'll do something else that will bring sexual pleasure without any chance of pregnancy." But you can say, "We'll choose to have sex only when we're infertile, but we'll forego sex and sexual pleasure when we are fertile because we don't want a child right now." But - and this is the important thing - you can't decide to only have sex when you're infertile unless you have a good reason to do so. This is something that a lot of people forget when they talk about NFP. If fertility is a gift, then you can't just decide to avoid it for no good reason. It's not just a case of "We don't want a child right now, because it's just not what we want." It's "We can't have a child right now, because we have serious reasons not to." It's a little like your obligation to go to Mass. You have an obligation to go every Sunday and holy day of obligation. But, if you have a serious reason to not go to Mass, that's fine. You might be sick, or taking care of a family member, or have a job to support your family that doesn't allow you to get to Mass. In all these cases, your obligation to go to Mass is dispensed with. You have a serious reason not to go. But you couldn't decide to not go to Mass because there was a football match on, or because you wanted to go to dance lessons on Sundays during Mass time, or because you just wanted to stay at home. The same goes for your obligations with sex. You have an obligation to use the gift of your fertility (although it's up to God whether sex actually results in pregnancy). But, if you have a serious reason to avoid having children, then that obligation is dispensed. You might have health or financial problems, or are busy taking care of your existing children, or might live in a country where having another child would be illegal. Those are all good reasons why you might avoid having children for a time, or even indefinitely if the situation was going to continue. You're not asked by God to have as many children as you possibly can even when it wouldn't be a good idea to do so. It's also worth pointing out that the Church doesn't have a "list" of what constitute serious reasons. You're supposed to use your best judgement as husband and wife, and just be generous. Ultimately, only the couple can know whether the reasons are good, or whether they're just making excuses. And it's also good to remember that there's no "right" number of children that couples are "supposed" to have. Some couples might be perfectly happy and capable of having ten kids. Others might have just one, and then find they're not going to be able to cope with any more. You might start out thinking you'll have lots of children, but perhaps your second child will have special needs that require extra attention, or you'll lose your job, or one of you will have medical issues, and the plan has to be readjusted. You might even encounter issues early on in your marriage that mean you can't have any children. Again, all God is asking is that you do what you can, and don't misuse your fertility. I don't think God tends to work like that. When humans make bad decisions, He tends to respect them, even if it means missing out on creating a new life that He'd otherwise like to make. Contraception does fail sometimes, but I think that's a case of "sperm meets egg, therefore new soul is necessary", rather than God deliberately stopping the contraception from working - contraception does have a failure rate, after all. Perhaps occasionally, God might deliberately stop it from working, but who can say? There's no way to know. In the bible, we see people like Abraham's wife Sarah and Zecharius' wife Elizabeth becoming pregnant even in old age. It's likely that God had something to do with that, but that's a different scenario, I think - they had been barren their whole lives, and desperately wanted a child. Even then, they were still having sex, although they didn't expect pregnancy to be possible. We do see people who thought they couldn't have children becoming pregnant. And even with NFP, you might still become pregnant. That's just the way sex is - it's really an invitation for God to create new life, and although we're given some freedom, ultimately, it's up to God. If you complained, "God, we used NFP and still got pregnant, and that's not fair", you'd be as well complaining, "God, we only wanted one baby, and You gave use twins, and that's not fair." (I don't know if that all makes sense! I've done my best.) xxx
  20. Yeah, I think this is about accurate. The whole meaning of marriage has been lost almost completely from Western society. In a few decades time, certainly within the next hundred years, I'm almost 100% sure we're going to have polygamy and group marriage...unless, of course, society comes to its senses and re-establishes marriage as it was intended. I think it's more likely, though, that we're just going to get rid of civil marriage completely, since there'll be no more point in having it. In either case, it makes little difference to me as a Catholic. I'll always be able to marry in the Church, even if there's no such thing as civil marriage. Anyway, the meaning of marriage...I'm no historian, but I have my own opinions about what happened to marriage, and how we got to this point... We started out by having marriage as the solution to a societal problem, namely: when men and women have sex, they make babies, who need to be taken care of till they reach adulthood. Furthermore, it's not always obvious when a baby is born who the father is - he could be close by, he could be on the other side of the world, or he might even be dead. Therefore, it's difficult to know who is responsible for looking after this baby, and in turn, supporting the mother, since it's generally more difficult for her to raise a baby on her own whilst also providing for herself. Therefore, marriage was a societal necessity to answer this problem. If a man and woman wanted a sexual relationship, they would be expected to make a public declaration that they would support any children that might come as a result of their relationship. The definition of what marriage consisted of was as a direct result of marriage's societal purpose: Man + Woman = because only a sexual relationship between a man and a woman can result in babies 2 parties = because only one man and one woman is biologically required to make a baby Binding until death = because children benefit from a relationship with both parents Sexually exclusive = so that the father of the child is known definitively It's a good system, and is flexible enough to accommodate irregular circumstances. If a husband dies and his wife remarries, the new husband is expected to support the wife's children and raise them just as he does his own children, so that they are still provided for. Even if a wife were to be unfaithful without her husband's knowledge, he is still legally presumed to be the father of any of her children, which means the children are still take care of. And if a child is orphaned, or the biological parents are otherwise unable to care for them, the child can be adopted by a different husband and wife, who become for all legal and social purposes the new mother and father of the child. Note that marriage is centred around providing for children, not around the desires of adults. Since each marriage constituted the creation of a new family unit, it was seen as more than simply a matter of "romance". People would have to choose marriage partners carefully, based on their ability to provide for a family as well as just romantic attraction. Sometimes, this would involve political reasons. If you were king of England and wanted to make Spain your political ally, having your son enter into a marriage with the King of Spain's daughter was a good way of doing so, since marriage would be perhaps the strongest contract you could have with them - what better way to solidify a union than by having grandchildren who were literally half English, half Spanish? Sometimes families who wanted to do business with each other would also use marriage as part of the merger. But this was only a case of using marriage as it already existed as a way of accomplishing a goal, not a separate or different kind of marriage. For example, in the Renaissance era, there was a play called The Duchess of Malfi, in which the Duchess decides to marry her steward Antonio. The plot then follows how even the Duchess's oven family wants to enact revenge on the Duchess for marrying "beneath her station", and we see how marriage has been distorted into something for social and political gain. It's a critique of a society which places too much value on marriage as a tool, instead of the creation of a new family - the couple are, after all, perfectly capable of supporting a family. Now, that's not to say that marriage has nothing to do with romantic attraction. In Jane Austen's novels, the perfect marriage is seen as one in which the couple are "in love", and this idea continues into Victorian literature. But the romantic feelings of adults were still viewed as far less important than the well-being of children. Here's my opinion on what happened: I think that as society drifted away from arranged marriage, political marriage, etc. and more towards "love marriages", we forgot about the fact that romantic attraction is not the only thing that matters. Marriage started to be viewed less as a societal good for the protection of children's rights, and more as just an expression of the love between a man and a woman. Then comes no-fault divorce. The conversation is no longer primarily about "how can we protect the rights of children to a relationship with both parents", but now "how can we ensure that adults have happy marriages". So if you fell "out of love" with your husband, you could get a divorce, no questions asked. Marriage was no longer about permanence. Next, we had the normalisation of sex outside of marriage, and with it, children born to unmarried parents. Although we've always had problems with sex outside of marriage, it was always expected that sex and marriage went together. We also saw contraception introduced, which took away the expectation that sex was about creating new life. Sex was no longer seen as being connected to marriage and new life, but became just an activity you could do for fun. Having children outside of marriage was also normalised to a large extent. Again, marriage was no longer about having children. Now, with the arguments for same-sex marriage, they don't even try to relate it to marriage and children. The argument is always about the happiness of adults, and the love adults have for each other, ignoring the fact that adults don't have to be married to live together, have sex, or love each other - all this can be achieved without marriage. So, now that marriage has been divorced from its original meaning, I think there are only two logical positions to hold. Either you agree with marriage as being one man, one woman, for life, and sexually exclusive, or you reject marriage as being necessarily any of those things. You can't pick and choose, because the original definition of marriage revolved around creating a family: 1. There is no logical reason that three people can't get married - the one man/one woman requirement was because that's how many it takes to create a child. 2. There's no reason for it to be lifelong - it was lifelong because children need their parents for life. 3. There's no reason it has to be sexually exclusive if the partners don't want it to be - it was sexually exclusive so that we know who the parents of the children were. So what you're left with is, marriage = a group of adults who agree to love each other and live together until they decide no longer to love each other or live together, and then they're not married any more. This is when I'm doubtful that the government would even have civil marriage any more. What would be the point? So people can claim tax breaks for being married? That doesn't make sense - the only reason you got tax breaks in the first place was because marriage was recognised as a social good resulting in stable families, and a tax break is a good reward/incentive. The government also has no reason to legally recognise adults loving each other or living together, although they did have a good reason to keep track of who were the parents of children. Anyway, that's my two cents, so to speak. xxx
  21. Hey, guys! Inspired by a Reddit thread I found hilarious, what words and phrases did you misunderstand as a child? http://www.reddit.com/comments/dxosj 1. When I was about five or six, I pronounced "Satan" as "satin" and vice versa. When my parents tried to correct me, I stubbornly insisted that I was right, because I thought that the long "ay" sounded softer and smoother and was therefore more fabric-y (I guess I thought "ah" just sounded like a cat coughing up a furball, or whatever). 2. There was an electrical appliances store near me which always had a sign saying "Look no further" (i.e. we've got the best deals right here). I didn't know what "further" meant and assumed it said "father". I imagined a conversation between an excited dad looking at all the technology (like mine did) and an exasperated daughter: "Look!!!" "No, father..." BONUS: My gran told me this one about my uncle (her son). When he was a little kid, he used to get scared when she tucked him in at night, so she asked him what was wrong. He said he was afraid of ghostie-men. She assured him that ghostie-men didn't exist. He insisted that they'd learned about them in school. Catholic school. "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghostie-men." If I think of more, I'll post them! xxx
  22. Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

    I like it a lot! I try to watch it every year around Good Friday. I don't think it's perfect, though. There's a lot of violence, which is partly about accuracy and trying to drive home how violent a death crucifixion was (I've heard it said that it's believed to be one of the most painful execution methods in history), but the violence seems to go on for quite some time - there's so much blood loss in the scourging scene that it seems pretty unlikely Jesus could have even walked after it, let alone carry a cross. (There is, of course, room for artistic licence, however). There's also some controversy about whether the movie is anti-Semitic or not, like the appearance of the Jewish high priests, and of course, Gibson himself and some of his comments. (Gibson's a great director, but he's a troubled soul...) Plus, from a personal perspective, Jim Caviezel is a good actor, but he's not my favourite Jesus portrayal, although he has some good moments. But, there's a lot I like about the movie. I love the flashback scenes with Jesus and Mary, especially the one where Jesus falling under the cross is juxtaposed with a child Jesus falling, and Mary running to pick Him up. That part always makes me cry (if I'm not already crying). I think that the agony in the garden scene is one of the best I've seen, and that the interpretation of Satan as an androgynous, humanoid creepy thing is very good. I love the scenes with Pontius Pilate and his wife, and how they interpret his internal struggle etc. about how to deal with Jesus. And I love certain characters, like Simon of Cyrene, and the little touch they add of him linking arms with Jesus to carry the cross. My favourite Jesus movie, by the way, is the 2000 film The Miracle Maker, which uses stop-motion animation to tell the story of Jesus's ministry. It's got Ralph Fiennes as the voice of Jesus (the same guy who voiced Ramesses II in The Prince of Egypt, and played Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies). He's still the best Jesus I've ever seen on film. xxx
  23. Religious Freedom Restoration Act

    Keep this charitable. There's no need for insults. xxx
  24. Scientists are going to attempt human head transplant soon

    I think most experts so far are saying there's no chance this could work. If it did, it raises all kinds of moral issues. The one that sprang to my mind first was, presumably if you're transplanting a "whole body", that includes the reproductive organs, which if they still worked, would mean this guy is going to be producing some other guy's sperm, and therefore if he wanted kids, they'd be some other guy's. That's a moral no-no for me right there. If it works, I wonder what the future would be. I read just the other day that they've already managed to create headless mice. What they do is create mice embryos, and then remove the gene that causes the head to grow. Voila, headless mice. If they tried that with humans, would the resulting headless humans have souls? Or even if not, and they were technically dead, presumably they had souls right up until the point where they were growing and developing in the womb, began growing organs, and upon being unable to develop the brain they needed to continue living, died as a result. Because you don't actually need a brain to survive at those early stages, just as you don't need a heart - it's only when your body becomes larger and more complex that you develop the organs to co-ordinate everything. Would we have people creating clones of themselves so they could grow them to an adult stage, minus the head, and then have a perfect genetic match for a head transplant? (Hmm, this is pretty fascinating. Would make for a good science-fiction novel *makes notes*) Anyway, I can't say I have high hopes for this head transplant. If he doesn't die immediately, or die a few days after the operation from complications, I can't see him waking up from the coma they're going to put him in. If he did survive to wake up, within a few weeks at most I suspect he'd have gone completely insane, and I'm not kidding. As the scientists have pointed out, that's a whole new set of organs, nerves, pain receptors, hormonal glands and sensory information, all feeding into your brain at the same time. I can't imagine that's going to be pleasant. [EDIT: Not to mention, you've got someone else's body stuck onto your head, and I think that'd take more than just a bit of getting used to...] xxx
  25. Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

    Good explanation on Canon, Vincey. Thanks! Thanks! It's English literature, and I've got four exams to study for - Renaissance, Romantic, Victorian and Modern (post 1945) literature. They're actually all really interesting topics, but the studying itself is just stressing me out. But it'll be all over in a few weeks, and then I've got the summer off to start working on my dissertation! I'm actually looking forward to working on that, since I've picked C.S. Lewis... Oh, awesome! I do like England, too, though. My parents and I take trips there a few times a year, and there are some great places. xxx